Christmas has little to do with the gifts we receive.
I hope my wife will forgive me for that statement, as she's spent most of her free time these past weeks helping out jolly Old St. Nick.
This is our annual reminder of how fortunate we are and that "It's not about the money!"
WEALT We try in the best way we can to spend this season of peace in the company of our family and friends, celebrating the season, taking a welldeserved rest, making plans for the New Year and sharing our wealth with others.
What is wealth, though? A friend of mine gave the best definition I have ever heard. "Wealth," he said, "is an abundance of what you treasure most."
Some key examples include family, friendship, health and freedom. Although financial wealth is necessary, it doesn't usually make it to the top of our list.
Planning for these "big picture" priorities involves beginning with a simple thought, "When your days are done, what needs to have happened for your life to have been well-lived?"
Once you've established that, it becomes quite simple to work it backwards from there. Christmas often puts us in the best frame of mind to begin that planning process.
If your wealth is your family, are you planning your career or business so that you can fully be a part of their lives or are you locked into a treadmill of working to afford shallow substitutes for your presence? Is it time to make some changes?
Think of the adventure that awaits. What about friendships? How much more enjoyable is this journey when we can travel it in the company of those who share our joys and sorrows? What can we do today to help a friend in need?
If you would like to be happier, are you budgeting time and planning for the experiences that give you joy, whether it be in your relationships, hobbies or passions?
Remember that real happiness doesn't usually come until you give some away.
Without good health, achieving and enjoying our life goals can be a struggle. Not only do we need to adopt healthy lifestyles, we also need to make plans in case an accident or illness strikes.
SMART Is there a heavy price on the freedom that you aspire to, or is there perhaps a less expensive path?
Have you rehearsed what life will look like when you stop working for money and have your money start working for you? Is it a plan that will free you or will it cost you sleepless nights?
Christmas began with a child bringing a simple message - "Peace."
Regardless of our many different beliefs, that's one word that probably embodies the essence of our life goals.
The opinions expressed are those of Richard Vetter, BA, CFP, CLU, ChFC. Richard is a Senior Financial Advisor and Branch Manager with WealthSmart Financial Group / Manulife Securities Incorporated in Richmond, BC. Manulife Securities Incorporated is a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.